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Avalokitesvara statue with Buddhist monks A quiet place for meditation

Why meditate?

This article is a modified excerpt from the book Intro­duction to Bud­dhism and to Bud­dhist Medi­ta­tion by Khun Reinhard.


Humans strive for hap­pi­ness but usually we experi­ence it rarely and then for a short time only. Sometimes we are really unhappy but most of the time we are in a more or less inde­terminate state of mind. Not really unhappy, but not really happy either and usu­al­ly we do not bother, but at times we have the notion that some­thing is not quite right, some­thing is miss­ing, without knowing what this might be.
Even this indeterminate state of mind, though not an un­hap­py state, is already difficult to bear for many of us be­cause there is a sense of lack which pre­vents us from feeling hap­py, but that is what we are looking for all the time.

In order to escape we have invented or are using all kinds of means: over­in­dul­gence in sex or the use of al­co­hol, nico­tine, other drugs, in­dul­gence in food, TV, internet, endless chatter...

We are used to looking outside our­selves, looking for sense stim­u­la­tions which may make us happy and some­times they do. But all of this is just temporary and when the effect is gone, we have to do it again and again... chasing hap­pi­ness end­lessly because, as we all know from our own ex­perience, there is no lasting hap­pi­ness in all these excitements.

Sometimes we are totally stressed out, tired of every­thing and what are we then longing for? Then we are yearning for a quiet and calm place, we don’t want to hear or see any­thing, we want to be alone, want to just rest, relax or go to sleep. I guess all of us have ex­pe­ri­enced this feeling of being fed up with every­thing.

However, all of us might be familiar with a dif­ferent kind of hap­pi­ness as well, a hap­pi­ness which does not spring from ex­cite­ment but out of calm and peace­ful cir­cum­stances: a walk along a quiet, empty beach in the early morn­ing, a stroll through a beautiful land­scape bathed in mild sunlight, listening to the birds and crickets in the morning, watch­ing a spectacular sun­rise or sun­set.

Usually it happens when we are alone, silent, undisturbed by people. This con­nec­tion with na­ture can uplift our minds im­mense­ly; it induces a very peace­ful and calm kind of hap­pi­ness, a feeling of light­ness, of floating, some­thing mag­i­cal.

Peacefulness and calmness of the mind is our refuge after being stressed out by all the other means of chasing “world­ly” hap­pi­ness. So why live the hard way and turn to this inner peace and balance only after a health scare, a divorce or other ca­tas­tro­phes in life? Why wait until our problems in life mount until they become nearly un­bear­able?

A much wiser approach is to in­ves­ti­gate the causes of our dis­con­tent­ment and lit­tle by little free our­selves from this re­lent­less and tiring chasing after pleasure. Even though read­ing books or listening to talks will help with this inquiry, it can ef­fec­tively be done only by looking inside, by ex­am­in­ing our own bodies and minds – by medi­ta­tion. At the end of the road Nib­bana or Nir­vana, a balanced permanent state of mind is waiting but at least for me (and I suspect for the vast majority of others) this is be­yond reach. But we can free the minds more and more fre­quently from dis­con­tent­ment and unhap­pi­ness. The path to genuine hap­pi­ness is pro­vided by medi­tation. [...]

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